Tripoli Gallery in Southampton is extending Jonathan Beer’s first solo show in the Hamptons, Memory Palace, through June 1.
The artist’s works, individual paintings and sculpture pieces and an installation painted on the gallery walls in situ, present an unsettling, immersive and contemplative experience that is well worth a visit or last look this weekend.
Conceived as a space for Beer’s thoughts and memory, the exhibition plays with spatial relationships, architectural conventions and a sort of kitsch, homebrew aesthetic that makes for a unique visual journey—should the viewer allow himself to take it.
The artist’s use of materials such as exposed plywood, paint-spattered studio tarps, shingles, brick-patterned wrapping paper, rolls of fake plastic grass and faux-stone spray paint creates a feeling of something cobbled together, something almost haphazard, but a cohesive vision emerges in short order.
As he describes it, Beer’s personal memory palace—a mnemonic device using imagined rooms to store and access that which needs to be remembered—is broken but real. It is a place of humor, nostalgia and sadness, frequently informed by the billboards and buildings in Newburgh, New York, where he currently lives and works.
Along with canvas scraps representing Stations of the Cross and a loosely rendered and smeared standing figure reading “Us, They Them,” at least two pieces reference orange and cool-blue Newport cigarette ads Beer saw in his town. Amazingly, when the artist explains this fact, it suddenly becomes totally apparent, like an artistic mentalist’s trick, revealing what the viewer subliminally knew all along, if only simmering just out of reach, in our unconscious.
Moments like this, when Beer’s memory palace busts open the doors of our own, briefly making the artist and viewer of one mind—and we both know it—are pure magic.
And in a world of the boring, expected and disappointing, that is a beautiful and rarefied thing.
Jonathan Beer Memory Palace is extended through June 1 at Tripoli Gallery in Southampton (30 Jobs Lane). Call 631-377-3715 or visit tripoligallery.com.